Plants stoloniferous, usually also rhizomatous. Culms
5-40(50) cm, not becoming woody. Sheaths glabrous or with scattered hairs;
collars usually with long hairs, particularly at the margins; ligules
about 0.5 mm, of hairs; blades 1-6(16) cm long, (1)2-4(5) mm wide, flat
at maturity, conduplicate or convolute in bud, glabrous or the adaxial surfaces
pilose. Panicles with (2)4-6(9) branches; branches 2-6 cm, in
a single whorl, axes triquetrous. Spikelets 2-3.2 mm. Lower glumes
1.5-2 mm; upper glumes 1.4-2.3 mm; lemmas 1.9-3.1 mm, keels not
winged, pubescent, margins usually less densely pubescent; anthers dehiscent
at maturity; paleas glabrous. 2n = 18, 36.
Cynodon dactylon is a variable species, but taxonomists disagree on just
how variable. Caro and Sánchez (1969) limited C. dactylon to plants
with conduplicate leaves, placing those with convolute leaves in a number of
other species, such as C. affinis Caro & Sánchez and C. aristiglumis
Caro & Sánchez; de Wet and Harlan (1970) do not mention this character
in their study of Cynodon. Caro and Sánchez also employed several
other characters in the key separating C. dactylon from the species with
convolute immature leaves, but the overlap between the two sides of the lead
is substantial. Pending further study, the broader interpretation, in which
C. dactylon includes plants with both convolute and conduplicate leaves,
has been adopted.
Several varieties of C. dactylon have been described,
in addition to which numerous cultivars have been developed, some as turf grasses
for lawns or putting greens, others as pasture or forage grasses. Their useful
range is limited because C. dactylon is not cold hardy, going dormant
and turning brown when nighttime temperatures fall below freezing or average
daytime temperatures are below 10° C.
The most commonly encountered variety, both in the Flora
region and in other parts of the world, is C.
dactylon var. dactylon, largely because it thrives in severely
disturbed, exposed sites; it does not invade natural grasslands or forests.
Determining how many other varieties are established in the Flora region
is almost impossible, because there has been no global study of variation in
the species. The presence of numerous cultivars complicates an already difficult
problem. The two varieties keyed out below are the only two that grow in the
Flora region according to de Wet and Harlan (1970), but these authors
do not appear to have considered the taxa recognized by Caro and Sánchez
(1969). For most purposes, it is probably neither necessary nor feasible to
identify the variety of C. dactylon encountered.
Cynodon dactylon is considered a weed in many countries
and it is true that, once established, it is difficult to eradicate. It does,
however, have some redeeming values. It is rich in vitamin C, and its leaves
are sometimes used for an herbal tea. It is claimed to have various medicinal
properties, but these have not been verified. It is considered a good pasture
grass, in addition to which it is sometimes grown as an ornamental and for erosion
control on exposed soils.
Perennial mat-forming, runner-bearing herb, usually with rhizomes 5 cm - 0.56 m tall Leaves: with open and hairless to sparsely hairy sheaths, long-haired collars, and ligules made of hairs about 0.5 mm long. The blades are 1 - 16 cm long, 1 - 5 mm wide, folded lengthwise or rolled up longitudinally in bud, becoming flat when mature, and hairless or minutely hairy on the upper surface. Inflorescence: of two to nine branches borne in a whorl, each branch 2 - 6 cm long, with spikelets arranged in two rows on one side of the branch. Fruit: a caryopsis. Culm: 5 - 50 cm long, erect to ascending. Spikelets: 2 - 3.2 mm long and laterally compressed. Glumes: nearly equal, membranous and longitudinally ridged, the lower glume 1.5 - 2 mm long and single veined, the upper glume 1.4 - 2.3 mm long and one- to three-veined. Florets: with three anthers and a style with two feather-like branches. Lemma: 1.9 - 3.1 mm long, longitudinally ridged, three-veined, hairy but becoming sparsely so at the margins. Palea: about same length as the lemma, hairless, with two longitudinal ridges.
Similar species: No information at this time.
Flowering: early July to mid October
Habitat and ecology: introduced from Africa, this species is rare in most of the region but is becoming frequent in lawns, parkways and vacant sandy lots of Barrien County.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Etymology: Cynodon comes from the Greek words cyon, meaning dog, and odus, meaning tooth, referring to the close rows of tooth-like spikelets. Dactylon means "with fingers."
Widely spreading by stolons and rhizomes and forming mats, the culms erect or ascending, 1-3 dm; main lvs 2-4 mm wide; spikes 4-6, divergent, 3-5(-8) cm; glumes 1.5-2.2 mm, the first curved, the second nearly straight; lemma 2-2.5 mm, minutely pubescent to long-villous on the keel; 2n=36, 40. Native of the Old World, abundant (and often cult.) in lawns and in disturbed sites in s. U.S. (n. to Del.) and adventive n. to N. Engl., Mich., and Nebr. (Capriola d.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
Common Name: Bermudagrass Duration: Perennial Nativity: Non-Native Lifeform: Graminoid General: Perennial with stolons and rhizomes, stems mostly creeping and stoloniferous with short internodes, forming extensive mats. Vegetative: Sheaths glabrous or with scattered hairs; leaves 2-ranked (emerging out of both sides of the culm in a single plane), flat, short, narrow, usually 1-6 cm long and 1-3 mm broad; ligule a fringe of short hairs and lateral tufts of long stiff hairs. Inflorescence: Spikes 4-7, digitate, slender, 2.5-6 cm, purplish to green; spikelets sessile and closely appressed, in two rows on narrow, triangular rachis. Spikelets with with a single perfect floret, the rachilla extending beyond the palea and sometimes bearing a rudimentary lemma. Glumes lanceolate, awnless, subequal, and shorter than the lemmas; lemmas acute, awnless, keeled, pubescent, with a ciliate midnerve. Ecology: Widespread weed; especially frequent along streams and in riparian zones; 0-6,000 ft (0-1829 m). Distribution: Native to the Old World; naturalized worldwide. Notes: One of the most common introduced grasses in Arizona. It is the most common cultivated lawn grass in the southwest-s low desert cities, and has become well established along most waterways in Arizona. It can be a valuable forage grass in desert environments, as it tolerates hot, arid, saline conditions. Distinguished by its perennial, stoloniferous and rhizomotous growth habit with culms and runners creeping long distances, becoming tangled, and producing dense growth and forming beds or mats in the right conditions. The inflorescence is distinct, too, with a panicle of 2-9 digitate branches with spikelets densely packed in 2 rows and florets containing pubescent lemmas and lacking awns. Another widespread weed, Chloris virgata, has a similar digitate inflorescence. However C. virgata is an annual grass with awned spikelets, while C. dactylon is perennial and awnless. Ethnobotany: In India, juice pressed from the leaves, seeds, and flowers is mixed with sugar and taken for nausea. Etymology: Cynodon is from Greek meaning dog-s tooth, a traditional common name for the grass in Europe; and dactylon is from Greek daktylos, or finger, referring to the digitate inflorescence. Synonyms: Capriola dactylon, Panicum dactylon Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2014, AHazelton 2015